Protecting the Pines
Over the last 30 years, more than half of all shortleaf pine forests in the southeastern United States have disappeared because of fire suppression and conversion to other uses, and with them rare plants and animals such as the Red-cockaded woodpecker have been declining. But there is hope—people across 22 affected states are getting serious about protecting and restoring the native shortleaf pine habitats. Arkansas Conservancy staff members McRee Anderson and Doug Zollner are facilitating a broad coalition of private organizations and public agencies throughout the region to develop a range-wide plan for the shortleaf pine ecosystem.
“It’s essential to have a coordinated approach to tackle an area this big,” said Anderson, “and it’s encouraging to see so many committed people coming together to make it happen.”
The resulting plan will help focus and coordinate each partner’s efforts to make sure this majestic landscape isn’t lost forever.
Federal Partnership Yields Big Results for Prairies
Through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Partners for Fish & Wildlife Program, the Conservancy is restoring vital habitat for plants and animals at two southwest Arkansas preserves: Columbus Prairie in Hempstead County near Hope and Prairie Ridge at Terre Noire in Clark County near Arkadelphia. Through prescribed fires, cedar removal and invasive species eradication the original beauty and diversity of the prairies is returning.
The results are already visible with great wildflower blooms in both areas. Next time you are in that part of the state, be sure to stop by and see how these grants are helping conservation in Arkansas!
Arkansas Honored for Private Lands Conservation
The Nature Conservancy in Arkansas was honored with the 2013 Conservation Partnership Award from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s Southeast U.S. Region for our work on private lands. Roger W. Mangham and Clint Harris represented the Conservancy at the award ceremony in Lafayette, Louisiana. “We are privileged to work with a lot of great landowners who are passionate about conserving their land,” said Mangham. “For some it’s a commitment to caring for what has been in their family for generations and will be passed down to their children and grandchildren. It’s an honor to be able to help.”
We are grateful for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s strong service to private landowners in Arkansas and throughout the country. And a big thank you to our members—without you, on-the-ground conservation work like this would not be possible.
Endangered Bird Gaining in Numbers
The Red-cockaded woodpecker (RCW) is receiving a lot of help from the forestry community, organizations, and agencies in Arkansas, so we love when we have good news to report. When we acquired 3,609 acres from Plum Creek Timber next to the Felsenthal National Wildlife Refuge two years ago, the property included one quarter of all RCWs in Arkansas. With the purchase came the responsibility of maintaining and documenting the birds. We hired The Wildlife Company to help us keep track of how the little guys and gals were doing. They helped monitor reproduction for all RCW breeding clusters, checked for nesting activity, and banded new chicks when possible. And when the result came in, it showed that 2013 was a pretty good year. In fact, it was better than 2012 by all measured categories. Sixty-two birds were observed, which is an increase of nine birds! With the continued support of donors and partners, we anticipate 2014 will be even better.